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CHRISTIANITY AND MARCUS AURELUS THE PHILOSOPHER.

FOURTH PERIOD, CHRISTIANITY UNDER THE SUCCESSORS OF MARCUS AURELIUS.

CHAPTER IX.

THE PERSECUTION UNDER DIOCLESIAN.

Peace of the Christians (A. D. 284.) 378 Maxentius

389
Progress of Christianity... ib. Constantine

ib.

Relaxation of Christian Morals... ib. Sufferings of the Christians... 390

Charity. ,

ib. Edict of Galerius (A. D. 311, April

Dioclesian ..

379 30.).....

391

Change in the State of the Empire ib. Conduct of Maximin in the East.. 392

Neglect of Rome..

380 Maximin hostile to Christianity... 393

Religion of Dioclesian

381 Re-organisation of Paganism. 394

New Paganism..

ib. Persecutions in the Dominions of

Worship of the Sun..

382 Maxim

ib.

Sentiments of the Philosophic Party 383 The Pagans appeal to the flourish-

Deliberations concerning Chris- ing State of the East, in support

tianity....

384 of their Religion..

395

Council summoned by Dioclesian. ib. Reverse .

Edict of Persecution..

385 Tyranny of Maximin.

ib.

its Publication..
ib. War with Armenia.

396
its Execution in Nicomedia... ib. Famine..

ib.

torn down....

386 Pestilence...

ib,

Fire in the Palace at Nicomedia.. ib. Maximin retracts his persecuting
The Persecution becomes general. 387 Edict.....

397
Illness and Abdication of Diocle- Death of Maximin....

ib.

sian(A. D. 304.)...

388 The new Paganism falls with Max-

General Misery.

389

imin....

398

Galerius, Emperor of the East.. ib. Rebuilding of the Church of Tyre. ib.

Maximin Daias.

ib.

ib.

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INTRODUCTION-STATE AND VARIOUS FORMS OF PAGAN RELIGION, AND OF PAILOSOPHY.

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The reign of Augustus Cæsar is the inost remarkable epoch in Era of The history of mankind. For the first time, a large part of the Augustus families, tribes, and nations, inlo which the human race had gradually separated, were united under a vast, uniform, and apparently permanent, social system. The older Asiatic empires had, in

general, owed their rise the ability and success of some advenlurous conqueror; and, when the master-hand was withdrawn, fell asunder; or were swept away to make room for some new kingdom or dynasty, which sprang up with equal rapidity, and in its turn experienced the same fale. The Grecian monarchy established by Alexander, as though it shared in the Asiatic principle of vast and sudden growth and as rapid decay, broke up at his death into several conflicting kingdoms; yet survived in its influence, and united, in some degree, Western Asia, Egypt, and Greece into one political system, in which the Greek language and manners predominated. But the monarchy of Rome was founded on principles as yet unknown; the kingdoms, which were won by the most unjustifiable aggression, were, for the most part, governed with a judicious union of firmness and concilialion, in which the conscious strength of irresistible power was tempered with the wisest respect lo national usages. The Romans conquered like savages, but ruled like philosophic statesmen (1). Till, from the Euphrates to

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(1) On the capture of a city, promiscuous course, the general policy, not the local tyranny,
inassacre was the general order, which descend. which was so often exercised by the individual
ed even to brute animals, antil a certain signal. provincial governor.
Polyb. x. 15. As to the latter point, I mean, of

Roman Civilisa. tion,

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the Atlantic, from the shores of Britain, and the borders of the Ger-
man forests, lo the sands of the African Desert, the whole Western
world was consolidaled into one great commonwealth, united by
The bonds of law and government, by facilities of communication
and commerce, and by the general dissemination of the Greek and
Latin languages.

For civilisation followed in the train of Roman conquest : the
ferocity of her martial temperament seemed to have spent itself in
the civil wars : the lava flood of her ambition had cooled ; and
wherever il had spread, a rich and luxuriant vegetation broke forth.
At least down to the time of the Antonines, though occasionally
disturbed by the contests which arose on the change of dynasties,
the rapid progress of improvement was by no means retarded.
Diverging from Rome as a centre, magnificent and commodious
roads connected the most remote countries; the free navigation of
the Mediterranean united the most flourishing cities of the empire;
The military colonies had disseminated the language and manners
of the South in the most distant regions; the wealth and population
of the African and Asiatic provinces had steadily increased; while,
amid the forests of Gaul, the morasses of Britain, the sierras of
Spain, flourishing cities arose; and the arts, the luxuries, the or-
der, and regularity of cultivated life were introduced into regions
which, a short lime before, had afforded a scanty and precarious
subsislence to tribes scarcely acquainted with agriculture. The
frontiers of civilisation seemed gradually to advance, and to drive
back the still-receding barbarism (1): while within the pale, na-
tional distinctions were dying away; all tribes and races met
amicably in the general relation of Roman subjects or citizens and

mankind seemed settling down into one great sederal society (2). Appear. About this point of time Christianity appeared. As Rome had Christian. united the whole Western world into one, as it might almost seem, ily.

lasting social system, so Christianity was the first religion which
aimed at an universal and permanent moral conquest. The re-

ligions of the older world were content with their dominion over the The older particular people which were their several volaries. Family, tribal, Religions.

national, deities were universally recognised; and as their gods
accompanied the migrations or the conquests of different nations,
their worship was extended over a wider surface, but rarely pro-
pagated among the subject races. To drag in triumph the divinilies
of a vanquished people was the last and most insulting mark of
subjugation (3). Yet, though the gods of the conquerors, had thus

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(1) Quæ sparsa congregaret imperia, ritusque unius animo regendum.” Such was the argumolliret, et tot populoruin discordes ferasque ment of Asinius Gallus, Tac. Ann. i. 12. linguas sermonis commercio contraheret ad col- (3) Tot de diis, qnot de gentibus triumphi. loquia, et hunanitatem homini daret. Plin. Nat. Tertullian. Compare Isaiab, xlvi, 1., and GeseHist. iii, 5,

nius's note ; Jer. xlviii. 7. xlix. 3.; Hos. x. 5, 6., (2) “ Unum esse reipublicæ corpus, atque Dau. xi, 8.

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manifested their superiority, and, in some cases, the subject nation might be inclined to desert their inefficient protectors, who had been found wanting in the hour of trial; still the godhead even of the defeated divinities was not denied : though their power could not withstand the mightier tutelar deity of the invaders; yet their right to a seat in the crowded synod of heaven, and their rank among the intermediate rulers of the world, was not called in question (1). The conqueror might, indeed, take delight in showing his contempt, and, as it were, trampling under foot the rebuked and impotent deities of his subject; and thus religious persecution be inflicted by the oppressor, and religious fanaticism excited among the oppressed. Yet, if the temple was desecraled, the allar Thrown down, the priesthood degraded or put to the sword, this was done in the fierceness of hostility, or the insolence of pride (2); or from policy, lest the religion should become the rallying point of civil independence (3); rarely, if ever, for the purpose of extirpating a false, or supplanting it by a true, system of belief; perhaps in no instance with the design of promulgating the tenets of a more pure and perfect religion. A wiser policy commenced with

Policy of Alexander. The deities of the conquered nations were treated with Alexander ; uniform reverence, the sacrilegious plunder of their temples punished with exemplary severity (4). According to the Grecian system, their own gods were recognised in those of Egypt and Asia ; they were called by Grecian' names (5), and worshipped with the accustorned offerings; and thus all religious differences between Macedonian, and Syrian, and Egyptian, and Persian, at once

, vanished away. On the same principle, and with equal sagacity, of Rome. Rome, in this as in other respects, aspired to enslave the mind of Those nations which had been prostrated by her arms. The gods of the subject nations were trealed with every mark of respect : somelimes they were admitted within the walls of the conqueror, as though to render their allegiance, and rank themselves in peaceful subordination under the supreme divinity of the Roman Gradivus,

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(1) There is a curious passage in Lydus de combined with his natural arrogance. Herod
Ostentis, a book which probably contains some viii. 53,
parts of the ancient rilual of Rome. A certain (3) This was most likely the principle of the
aspect of a comet not merely foretold victory, horrible persecution of the Jews by Antiochus
but the passing over of the hostile gods to the Epiphanes, though a kind of heathen bigotry
side of the Romans : xai aura da ce sera seems to have mingled with his strange cha-
tutaneitouor TOUS Tonscious, cŐOTE éx racter. ! Mace. i. 41. et seqq. 2 Macc. vi. Diod.

Sic. xxxiv. 1. Hist, of the Jews, vol. ii. p. 42, περισσού προστεθηναι τους νικηταίς.

(4). Arrian, lib. vi. p. 431. 439. (Edit. Amst, Lydus de Ostentis, lib. 12.

1668.); Polyb. v. 10. (2) Such was the conduct of Cambyses in (5) Arrian, lib. iii. p. 158., vii. p. 464., aal Egypt. Xerxes had, before his Grecian inva- 486. Some Persian traditions, perhaps, represent sion, shown the proud intolerance of his dispo- Alexander as a religious persecutor; but these sition, in destroying the deities of the Babylo. are of no authority against the direct statement nians, and slaying iheir priesthood (Herod. i. of the Greek historians. The Indian religious 183., aud Arrian, vii. 19.); though, in this case, usages, and the conduct of some of their faqnirs, the rapacity which fatally induced himn to pillage excited the wonder of the Greeks. and desecrate the temples of Greece may have

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